11 February 2013

Frank Miller on the Comics Code Authority

I finally found an online copy of the Frank Miller speech in which he debunks the legend of Dr. Wertham and the Senate compelling the comics industry to censor itself.

Misconceptions. Here’s a whopper. One that has cost us dearly. The dreaded 1950s. Fredric Wertham. The outside world. It seems a week doesn’t go by where I don’t sit down with my Comics Buyer’s Guide and read about somebody, somewhere, fretting about the almighty outside world and how it is bound to notice our adventures are getting more adventurous. Nobody’s come after us in any big way, but there’s a little bit of the stink of censorship in the air, isn’t there? There’s all this noise about Janet Reno and Paul Simon and Beavis & Butt-Head, isn’t there? And we all know what happened last time, don’t we? In the fifties, with Frederic Wertham and the Senate hearings. They shut us down, didn’t they?

The outside world went and noticed us. The United States Senate held hearings and decided comic books caused juvenile delinquency, right? So we had to institute the Comics Code, right? Our backs were against the wall, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. They didn’t. The Senate vindicated us. Frederic Wertham failed.

This is how screwy our sense of our own history is. Most people in comics don’t realize that the Senate vindicated us. After due consideration, the United States Senate decided comic books were not a cause of juvenile delinquency. We were vindicated.

Why, then, the Comics Code? Abject cowardice, maybe? Maybe, partly, but not entirely.

We were vindicated. Why did the comics industry go and adopt a code of self-censorship far stricter than any in entertainment? Why would a healthy, vital industry selling comics by the truckload — hell, by the trainload — and castrate itself? Why?

The answer may just make you all a little sick to your stomachs. You see, comics publishers in the 1950s had a problem. This problem had a name. Its name was William Gaines.

William M. Gaines was the rarest of creatures, a brilliant publisher. His EC Comics outsold everybody else’s comics by a long shot because they were better than anybody else’s comics. By a long shot. The other publishers couldn’t compete with him. Not fairly, anyway. So they used the free-floating fear of the time to shut him down. If you read the Comics Code — and I have — you’ll see that it was written with no purpose more noble than driving EC Comics out of business. That was its purpose, and it succeeded at it [waving a copy of Americana in Four Colors, a booklet published by the Comics Code].

I can back this up. I’ve got a copy of the Comics Code right here [ripping the cover off the booklet].

Excuse me, but I’m having some trouble opening it. Here are a couple of examples of the Comics Code. General Standards, Part A, Paragraph 11: “The letters of the word ‘crime’ should never be greater appreciably in dimension than other words contained on a cover. The word ‘crime’ should never appear alone on a cover.” See ya, Johnny Craig [ripping pages from the booklet, throwing them away].

And here is General Standards, Part B, Paragraph A: “No comic magazine shall use the word ‘horror’ or ‘terror’ in its title.”

A noble effort, folks.

That’s why we had that damn stupid Comics Code for all these years. Not to protect children. Not to satisfy the United States Senate. Not to mollify Frederic Wertham. We were stuck with the Comics Code for all those dumb decades because a pack of lousy comics publishers in the ’50s wanted to shut down Bill Gaines.

Misconceptions. That one continues to haunt us. Because of something that never happened, our industry cringes like a battered child every time there’s a hint of a threat from the outside world. Every few years, the fear talk starts again. Every few years, the producers of stories about heroes who never give up start whimpering that we should fold up our tents and surrender to an enemy who hasn’t even shown up.

You may want to follow the link and check out the rest of the speech, which is about Jack Kirby and filled with the kind of fulsome praise the King deserved.

4 comments:

Glen said...

Miller's on target. The kicker, by far, though is how Gaines won out in the end when Mad, the one comic that wasn't targeted by the CCA, became the best-selling comic (as in humorous) magazine for four decades after they shut down the rest of his "funny-book" empire. And while the EC comics were great, Mad was essentially the place where decades of boys and girls learned that you could poke sticks at authority.

oakleyses said...

longchamp outlet online, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp handbags, ray ban outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, oakley vault, chanel handbags, nike air max, louboutin shoes, kate spade handbags, prada handbags, louis vuitton handbags, coach outlet store online, kate spade outlet online, christian louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, nike free, gucci handbags, louis vuitton outlet online, polo ralph lauren, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet, tiffany jewelry, burberry outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet online, prada outlet, coach purses, jordan shoes, nike shoes, tory burch outlet, nike air max, red bottom shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet store, coach outlet

oakleyses said...

oakley pas cher, hollister, timberland, air max, nike roshe, true religion outlet, air max pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, ralph lauren pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, new balance pas cher, north face pas cher, chaussure louboutin, hollister, longchamp pas cher, hermes pas cher, nike roshe run, lululemon, barbour, nike air force, vans pas cher, air jordan, nike blazer pas cher, michael kors canada, nike air max, louis vuitton pas cher, ray ban pas cher, guess pas cher, nike free pas cher, louis vuitton uk, nike trainers, nike free, scarpe hogan, nike air max, true religion, longchamp, ray ban uk, north face, ralph lauren, sac louis vuitton, tn pas cher, converse pas cher, burberry pas cher, nike huarache, true religion outlet, louis vuitton, mulberry, sac michael kors, lacoste pas cher, michael kors uk

oakleyses said...

insanity workout, mac cosmetics, vans outlet, ghd, moncler, moncler, wedding dresses, moncler outlet, abercrombie and fitch, jimmy choo shoes, north face outlet, instyler ionic styler, north face jackets, roshe run, canada goose pas cher, new balance outlet, uggs outlet, rolex watches, asics shoes, ugg outlet, soccer shoes, canada goose uk, herve leger, birkin bag, longchamp, canada goose, reebok shoes, canada goose outlet, valentino shoes, canada goose outlet, ferragamo shoes, nfl jerseys, uggs on sale, p90x workout, soccer jerseys, hollister, lululemon outlet, mcm handbags, ugg soldes, celine handbags, ugg boots, mont blanc pens, canada goose outlet, chi flat iron, bottega veneta, marc jacobs outlet, ugg, beats headphones, giuseppe zanotti, babyliss pro